Yesterday I learned that a great leader and founder of the Ohio Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs, William L. Mallory, Sr. had passed away. For a time it seemed as if all the air had been sucked out of the room as I struggled to grapple with a range of sudden and deeply sad emotions. As I tried to regain my composure it occurred to me that I needed to contact my colleagues – the other UMADAOP Directors and share the news with them. I didn’t realize how difficult this task would prove to be. Each phone call intensified the sense of sadness and the realization of our profound loss.
Most of the UMADAOP Directors have enjoyed a relationship with Mr. Mallory that has spanned a period of 20 to 30 years. Some of our most poignant memories are associated with the annual UMADAOP State Conference that has been hosted for the last 24 years.
During the past few hours I remembered numerous occasions where Mr. Mallory shared his wit, wisdom, knowledge, leadership, humor and love with us collectively and individually. Mr. Mallory was a story teller and was never at a loss at having a story to spin that had immediate and thoughtful application for the real life circumstances for which it was intended. Many of his stories began with the phrase… “I remember when I was a young man growing up in the west end of Cincinnati and times were pretty tough back then, but we had families and a community that were caring and nurturing. We were determined to rise above our circumstances.”
So many precious and treasured memories. In hindsight I wish that I had been far more attentive and written down the wisdom that I was exposed to in the presence of Mr. Mallory. I recall once many years ago, that the UMADAOP Conference was being hosted at the former Sheraton Bond Court hotel in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. During the course of one evening while “hanging out” with Mr. Mallory we met and talked with several celebrities who were guests at the hotel. The first person that we encountered was the late Sparky Anderson, who was at that time, managing the Detroit Tigers baseball team. The Tigers were in Cleveland to play the Indians and Mr. Mallory didn’t hesitate to let the Tigers Manager know that he was a Cincinnati Reds fan but nonetheless, he hoped that the Indians would be victorious in their game with the Tigers on the following day. The next person that we saw at the hotel restaurant was Jerry Springer. Mr. Mallory asked me “do you know who that guy was” (I didn’t) and he informed me that he was a TV personality that used to be Mayor of Cincinnati. Later that same evening we were on the elevator preparing to go our rooms and there was a couple on the elevator that Mr. Mallory spoke to and engaged in cordial conversation, as was his usual way. When the couple exited the elevator I asked Mr. Mallory, if he knew who the woman was? He said “no but she had nice teeth.” I told him that the woman was Roxy Roker – an actress and one of the stars on the Jefferson series, his response was, “how about that, that’s why I like the Bond Court Hotel, you can meet some rather interesting people here.”
Mr. Mallory never failed to attend a UMADAOP State Conference. He attended every conference during the past 24 years and stayed for the entire conference. He always hosted a private meeting with the directors at each conference that always seemed to have a sense of being very special. In addition to sharing humorous stories, he would ask each director to provide a status report of any barriers they were facing along with the accomplishments that had been gained at their respective UMADAOP organizations. At the end of these meetings he would impressively recite an often lengthy poem or quotation that always seemed appropriate for the occasion. He would then dismiss the meeting and loudly exhort the following “Directors you’ve been given your charge for the following year, now go forward and do good!”
I wish that I could remember more of the many quotations, verses and stories that he shared. I can’t. I do remember one that I will never forget just as I will never forget him and the indelible imprint that he has left in my life.
“It is not enough just to be good. You must be excellent. You must spread excellence to those you’ve been called to serve. Each of your cities and the state of Ohio must be a better place because of your service.”
― William L. Mallory, Sr.
John L. Edwards
UMADAOP Lucas County
President, Ohio UMADAOP Federation